Attitude and determination contributed to Fleet’s ruthless despatch of penalties last night against Chippenham Town and that desire to go through, in spite of a last-gasp equaliser, was what most pleased Dennis Kutrieb after the final whistle.
The manager revealed his players hadn’t honed their spot-kick technique in the days leading up to the match but he insisted that if they scored theirs, Tom Hadler would intervene when it came to the visitors’ penalties.
“We did not [practice them] but that’s exactly what I told the boys on the pitch,” Kutrieb told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “I told the boys before, I promised them if we do our penalties, we will win this game because Tom Hadler will save one, for sure, minimum.
“I said I’m very happy with the attitude of the penalties today, because that was determination. Every time you hit the target during the game you will win games and you will score a lot of goals because that was really, really good from the boys. I told them down there that I was really happy with the penalties because of the attitude.”
Leading up to Fleet’s third spot-kick lottery of the season, the manager was also pleased with the performance across the 90 minutes as Fleet’s speed of thought and attacking desire was much more cohesive.
“I’m happy because I saw a good performance from the boys and they were digging so deep,” he said. “They were fighting all over the pitch and tried to defend better than on Saturday and that’s the most important point for me. It’s always good when you win games but we had to go for penalties again. Normally you have to take the second goal then the game is finished. We had the chance to finish the game off, but we didn’t do it and that’s where we are at the moment with the team.
“I think when we have more confidence, everything is fine and we get the right results, we would win this game by two or three goals. But where we are, it’s a tough, tough situation for the boys. They only scored one goal, then they tried to defend and then were a little bit unlucky [for the equaliser] but what a fantastic goal.”
Kutrieb also praised his centre-back pairing and pointed out the youthfulness of many of his squad, particularly those who came in last night who might not have played as many minutes.
“I’m happy to have all of them,” he said. “Sometimes they have a good game, sometimes they have a bad game. I don’t like it, but that’s football. We see today, Sefa and Charlie as the centre-backs, they were much better than on Saturday, they’re 23, both of them. They’re young players, of course they make mistakes. I don’t like it and it’s very hard for me to accept it, but that’s normal because they’re young. Or when I look at Paxman, when I look at Chapman, when I look at Greg Cundle today on the right wing who had a very good game, all very young players.
“The other thing I always say is that we have a big squad and we have to use them because all of them want to play. I know it’s a tough situation for everyone. It’s tough for the fans because they want to be here, they can’t be here and they have to watch on the stream. Then they see a game like Saturday. I’m sure we wouldn’t give our fans such a game like Saturday’s if they were here. It’s hard to imagine when you’re not here how the boys feel on the pitch, but all of them want to give their best for the club. And today we had another few boys show what they’re able to do. We have to use them in the right way so some games will be better for them.”
The Fleet boss believes his side still need a little readjustment following the weeks off and lack of training either side of the self-isolation period but that they’ll be going all-out against Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday.
“We need a little bit more time after the two weeks off with the COVID stuff,” he said. “But they came back today and they showed the right reaction. We can’t play like Saturday if we want to win games, you have to be better. I saw today, and I think both sides will agree, that this win was well deserved. And that’s the most important point for me for today.
“We will be prepared and the boys are very happy to see if they can play against a National League team, if they are ready to go for it. All of them want to play, I saw that now in the changing room. It’s a big challenge for us. But it’s a good competition and I’m positive as always because I think it’s possible to get to the next round.”